Lord Sumption’s suggestion that Britain is rushing to put women in senior judicial positions does not reflect the facts.
The reality is that a slow but steady number of women are being appointed as judges purely on merit. There has never been any positive discrimination.
The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is certainly reaching out to explain its selection processes and ensure that applications are encouraged from all parts of society, but it is fundamental that all recommendations for appointments are on merit. There has never been any suggestion that anyone would be appointed purely because of her gender.
The JAC introduced the Equal Merit provision in 2013, a ‘tie-break’ provision. This only comes into play where there are two or more candidates of equal merit and only at the final selection stage. The provision is used where there is clear under-representation on the basis of race or gender. (This is determined by reference to national census data and data published by the Judicial Office showing the self-declared diversity of the courts and tribunals judiciary).
Coral Hill, Chair of the Association of Women Solicitors, London said
‘It’s incredibly disappointing to hear anyone worrying more about men being put-off applying for judicial positions than the many talented women. Women aren’t put off by the long working hours but by the failure to recognise their contributions to the law.’